Women's Medical Negligence

Third and Fourth Degree Tears

Towards the end of labour your skin and muscle layers in or around your vagina stretch and thin to allow your baby make his or her entrance into the world. Tears are most common in women having their first vaginal delivery and range from small abrasions to deep lacerations.

These range from a 1st degree tear to a 4th degree tear:

  • Types Of Tears:

    1st degree tear – this can be a small nick or abrasion. They usually heal themselves and shouldn’t require a stitch. 2nd degree tear – includes skin and muscle tissue damage. You may require stitches and it usually takes in or around 2 months to recover. An episiotomy is where the perineum is intentionally cut in order to facilitate delivery. An episiotomy involves the same muscle and tissue as a 2nd degree tear. 3rd degree tear – third degree tears is a tear or laceration through the perineum muscles and the muscles which surround the anus. Third degree tears can be further sub-divided into 3a, 3b and 3c tears, depending upon how far the injury extends into the anal sphincter:
    • 3a: partial tear of the external sphincter involving less than 50% thickness
    • 3b: tear of the external sphincter involving more than 50% thickness
    • 3c: external and internal sphincter torn
    4th degree tear – a fourth degree tear extends completely through to the anus, tearing the internal and external sphincter and, on occasion, the internal wall of the rectum or bowel.

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